November 17, 2009
Three calls that worked Dec. 31, 1967, "The Ice Bowl," NFL championship. Trailing the Dallas Cowboys, 17-14, with third and goal on the one-yard line and 16 seconds left, Packers quarterback Bart Starr calls Green Bay's final timeout and talks to coach Vince Lombardi. Instead of the expected pass, Starr runs a quarterback sneak and scores a touchdown for a 21-17 win and their third straight NFL title. Nov. 3, 2003, New England vs. Denver. With the Patriots trailing the Broncos by a point and facing fourth down from their one late in the fourth quarter, Coach Bill Belichick tells Lonie Paxton to snap the ball out of the end zone for an intentional safety.
January 3, 2010
Al Michaels serves as the play-by-play announcer and Cris Collinsworth provides the color commentary for tonight's game (Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4): Michaels says ... "I would hope that the Bengals would play their first-line guys for an extended period of time. I think the league has an issue here with games like this, and it was exacerbated by what took place in Indianapolis last week. You can't have too many of these games before fans start to say, 'This is ridiculous.
November 26, 2009 |
After his team's 38-37 loss to Detroit, Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini accused the Lions of faking injuries to slow down the Browns' no-huddle offense. "Perhaps Eric Mangini is faking being a head coach," a reader wrote to the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. You'd think the reader wasn't proud that the Browns were No. 1 in the Bottom Ten. As for Mangini's charges, an analysis of the game film found that Lions defensive players were granted injury timeouts six times -- and each time the injured player later returned to the game.
February 6, 2010 |
I tend to shun celebrations that don't have at least some spiritual component, but I always make an exception for the Super Bowl. It's a magical day, rife with camaraderie and new friends. Met my first wife at a Super Bowl party. She jumped out of the cake, then ate it. Score. Super Bowl parties are also, as any real fan will tell you, the absolute worst places to watch a football game. In my experience, most of those who go to Super Bowl parties have no interest in the game itself.
December 18, 2009 |
Ben Roethlisberger's numbers are up across the board, and he's completing a career-best 68.3% of his passes . . . but the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost five in a row and essentially have bumbled their way out of playoff contention. Tom Brady directs the AFC's top-ranked offense, and he ranks near the top in most positive statistical categories . . . but the New England Patriots have lost three of their last five games. Eli Manning is on pace for his first 4,000-yard passing season, and is coming off a career-best 391-yard game . . . but the New York Giants have lost six of eight and no longer control their postseason destiny.
January 9, 2010 |
Nothing since the Chicago Bears' loss in Super Bowl XLI has been more wrong than the handling of the backfield, and it will be on display this afternoon in the NFL playoffs' wild-card round as the New York Jets ride a career-best season from Thomas Jones into Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium to face Cedric Benson and the Bengals. The pair who combined for 1,857 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bears in 2006 has flourished, and now the trade of Jones to the Jets in order to move up in the second round of the 2007 draft looks worse than the selection of Benson (fourth overall in 2005)
January 21, 2010 |
Defensive end Jared Allen, the most menacing (and irreverent) member of Minnesota's defense, will do a little extra film study this week. Mapping a path to the quarterback? Breaking down the tendencies of an offensive tackle? Sure, he'll do some of that. But this is a different kind of film study. "I'm going to watch 'Road House,' " Allen said, referring to the 1989 action flick starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer hired to tame an unruly bar. "He just goes in there and kicks the crap out of everybody.
January 11, 2010 |
Conventional wisdom flunked out. The car door slammed on the rules of thumb. All those sure things? Shams. The opening weekend of the NFL playoffs might be best remembered for Sunday's Green Bay-Arizona overtime thriller, but the three games that came before it were noteworthy in their own right. They were mythbusters. Myth: New England is unbeatable at home in the postseason. Reality: Not only did the Patriots lose to Baltimore on Sunday at Gillette Stadium -- ending their streak of 11 straight home playoff victories -- they were crushed, 33-14.